Son of QC jailed for five years over part in £108m fraud

Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent
The fake eco-investment scheme used two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Photograph: Anegada/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The son of a judge was jailed on Friday for his part in a £108m fraud scheme of “astonishing greed” targeting the super-rich and famous people’s desire to help the environment and avert climate change.

Jonathan Anwyl, an Oxford and Eton-educated son of a retired crown court judge, helped run a scheme of “utter dishonesty, sophisticated planning and astonishing greed hidden behind a mask of concern for the environment”, Mr Justice Edis said during sentencing at Southwark crown court.

Six men were sentenced for devising fake eco-investment schemes as tax breaks for wealthy investors, including comedians, sports stars and relatives of politicians.

Investors’ money was actually pumped through offshore trusts into the fraudsters’ secret bank accounts and used to fund their lavish lifestyles, including luxury homes, jewellery, holidays and a £250,000 bathroom extension.

Edis said he was quite certain that the fraudsters were motivated by “a desire to become extremely rich”.

“You played with high stakes and lost,” he said. “It was bare-faced dishonesty and you did everything to inflict loss on the public, the people who pay their taxes, who were also victims.”

Anwyl, 44, used some of his £1.6m proceeds from the fraud to buy a house in Sydney. A management consultant, Anwyl was a pupil at Dulwich College prep school and Eton College school before going to Oxford University. His mother Shirley Anwyl QC was a circuit judge for 13 years and resident judge at Woolwich crown court until her retirement in 2008.

Anwyl was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and jailed for five-and-a-half years.

He joined the scheme run by respected scientist Michael Richards, who used his reputation to convince rich people to invest, marketed it as an “attractive, ethical, green commercial enterprise with tax benefits to those who invested”.

“This was an investment scheme devised by very clever if not brilliant professional men who used their reputations to promote and advance it,” prosecutor Charles Miskin QC had told the jury.

The scheme used two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and set up by Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak.

Richards, 55, who was described as a “fraudster to his core” was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and cheating the public revenue and sentenced to 11 years in jail.

The court heard that Richards had used his proceeds from the fraud to buy a home in Sussex, southern England, and a property in Dubai. He also spent £32,000 on a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend from luxury jewellers Boodles.

Robert Gold, 49, and Rodney Whiston-Dew, 66, were found guilty of the same charges and also jailed for 11 and 10 years, respectively. Eudoros Demetriou, 77, a former senior executive at EMI and Warner Music, was also convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and sentenced to six years in jail. Malcolm Gold, 73, pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue and was sentenced to 20 months in jail in January 2017.

Edis told the court that the complicated trial had been so long that one juror had conceived and given birth to a child between being sworn in and delivering the verdict.

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